Ducks aim to rebound against Oilers
Sunday, 03.04.2012 / 5:17 PM
David Kalan - NHL.com Staff WriterOILERS (25-33-6) AT DUCKS (28-28-10)
: SNET-W, PRIME (HD)
: Edmonton 4-5-1; Anaheim 5-4-1.
: The Ducks and Oilers have met just once this season, with Anaheim trouncing the Oilers in a 5-0 blitzing on Jan. 13 at Rexall Place.
: As the Ducks try to make their desperate last-ditch playoff push, they'll be getting awfully familiar with the Oilers. The two teams will face each other three times over the final five weeks of the season, and Anaheim will have a chance to fire its opening shot Monday night at Honda Center.
: A promising start to the season for Edmonton has long since fell to the wayside and with 18 games to go, the Oilers, sitting well behind the West's top eight and 14th in the Conference have been relegated to the role of spoiler. Given that the Oilers are 10 points back of the 13th-place Ducks and well ahead of cellar-dwelling Columbus, their position in the standings is unlikely to change by the end of the season.
Fortunately for Edmonton, they have a chance to play that role of spoiler Monday night as the Ducks are clinging to life in the Western Conference playoff race. A loss for Anaheim could be a terminal blow, but gathering the momentum could be tricky for Edmonton, which has lost three of its last four games and is coming off a 3-1 defeat to Dallas Friday night.
: Like the Oilers, the Ducks have also lost three of four games, but unlikely the Oil, Anaheim is still, albeit narrowly, in the playoff hunt. The Ducks remarkable second half under midseason replacement head coach Bruce Boudreau has put them within reaching distance of eighth place, a run that is due in large part to goalie Jonas Hiller
, who has started Anaheim's last 25 games and given up more then two goals just six times in that span.
The biggest issue for Anaheim, however, is that to make the postseason it will have to hop over five teams with just 16 games to go, something that has become increasingly more difficult since the advent of the three-point game in the NHL. Even more troublesome is that while the Ducks did recently defeat Calgary, one of the teams they're chasing, they have also lost recently to two others, Los Angeles and Colorado. Even more crucial is that after Monday, the Ducks will go on a three-game road trip on which they will visit St. Louis, Dallas and Colorado that could prove the make-or-break stretch of their season.
: Bobby Ryan
has an outside shot at his fourth consecutive 30-goal season and he's certainly helped the pace lately, tallying two goals and an assist in his last four games. ... Taylor Hall has seven points in his last six games.
: The Ducks are still missing backup goaltender Dan Ellis
, who has been out since early January with a torn groin. Theo Peckham is questionable for Edmonton with a facial injury.
: Despite their struggle with winning games on the whole, the Oilers actually have the League's top-ranked power play unit, converting at 21.7 %. That could prove pivotal against the Ducks, who have been shorthanded 128 times season -- the second-highest total in the NHL.
: If there is a trend the Ducks can take solace in it's that they've played the Oilers about as well as any team can play any other, winning nine of their last ten games overall. As well, Anaheim is 10-2-1 in its last 13 games at home, a positive harbinger against the Oil, which is one of just two teams in the League with 20 regulation losses on the road.